Spring-Clean Your Fridge and Freezer (cont.)

To prevent freezer burn, make sure that the food is tightly wrapped with freezer-quality wrap, and get as much air out between the food and the wrap.

For some guidelines on how long you can safely keep food in the refrigerator or freezer, I consulted the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Here's a chart with the times for various foods.

  STORAGE PERIOD
PRODUCT In Refrigerator
40 degrees Fahrenheit
(5 degrees Celsius)
In Freezer
0 degrees F
(-18 degrees C)
Fresh Meat:    
Beef: Ground 1-2 days 3-4 months
Steaks and roasts 3-5 days 6-12 months
Pork: Chops 3-5 days 4-6 months
Ground 1-2 days 3-4 months
Roasts 3-5 days 4-6 months
Cured Meats:    
Lunch Meat 3-5 days 1-2 months
Sausage 1-2 days 1-2 months
Hot dogs Unopened, 2 weeks
Opened, 1 week
 
Prepared salads (egg, tuna, etc) 3-5 days Don't freeze
Gravy 1-2 days 2-3 months
Soups or stews 3-4 days 2-3 months
Fish:    
Lean (such as cod,
flounder, haddock)
1-2 days up to 6 months
Fatty (such as blue, perch,
salmon)
1-2 days 2-3 months
Chicken: Whole 1-2 days 12 months
Parts 1-2 days 9 months
Giblets 1-2 days 3-4 months
Dairy products:    
Swiss, brick, processed
cheese
3-4 weeks *
Soft cheese 1 week 6 months
Milk 5 days 1 month
Ice cream, ice milk - 2-4 months
Butter 1-3 months 6-9 months
Buttermilk 7-14 days 3 months
Cream cheese 2 weeks -
Cream 3-5 days 4 months
Sour cream 7-21 days -
Yogurt 7-10 days -
Eggs: Fresh in the shell 3 weeks -
Hard-boiled 1 week -
Pasteurized liquid 3 days (opened)
10 days (unopened)
1 year
Mayonnaise 2 months don't freeze
TV dinners - 3-4 months
Store-bought convenience meals 1-2 days -
Cooked meat leftovers 3-4 days 2-3 months
Pizza 3-4 days 1-2 months
Stuffing, cooked 3-4 days 1 month
Dough - tube can, cookies use-by date 2 months (don't freeze tube cans)
* Cheese can be frozen, but freezing will affect the texture and taste.
SOURCES: Food Marketing Institute for fish and dairy products, USDA for all other foods

Originally Published Friday, April 29, 2005.
Medically updated April 17, 2008.


SOURCES: FDA. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Food Keeper, the Food Marketing Institute.

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